Two More

April 19, 2010

And first draft exercises, at that.

Produce

Betty was taking her time in Safeway for once.  She loved browsing when she went grocery shopping, but since the children had come along she found it becoming more and more difficult to slowly push her cart up and down every aisle twice without worrying about the well-being of her kids or her home.  Today, however, the kids were in the care of her mother, so she indulged herself.  Browsing served no purpose other than to allow her to escape into her thoughts; it was like walking in the park, but it was air-conditioned and served sushi.  And so she meandered through the ethnic foods aisle, her eyes bouncing from medium Pace Salsa to gordita tortillas to matzoh ball soup in a box, her mind on what her life had become.  Two kids and ten years of marriage, but the love, if it was ever love to begin with, had long since disappeared.  It was a mutual lacking, but she and Don had agreed that a facade was better for the children than nothing at all.  At least they had stayed faithful to each other, even though Don hadn’t even attempted to touch her since they conceived Ben, their youngest.  That was 4 years ago.   Betty pushed her cart to the right and went down the cereal aisle, looking from Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Trix to Lucky Charms.  Her kids would hate her, but she picked Cheerios; not Honey Nut Cheerios but regular, dry, bland Cheerios.  They were getting enough sugar at her mother’s house, anyways.  A left turn and she was in the produce section.  She skipped the vegetables and headed towards the organic fruit, unsure of what she would buy.  And then she saw it, as if it were possible to miss in the first place.  A huge pear, its color golden and its skin flawless, stood on top of the display, overshadowing everything beneath it.  But what the pear hid was of more interest to her.  She moved slightly to the left and looked intently beyond the pear until she was absolutely sure of what she was seeing.  It was Don, his lips pressed to another woman’s mouth, her head cradled in his hands the same way he used to do with her.

My Glamorous Life as a Plumber

I don’t think anyone truly appreciates what it’s like to be a plumber.  It’s not a glamorous job, but somebody has to pull out the things your two year old shoved down the toilet, right?  I still don’t know how exactly I got started in this business because it’s not exactly that dream job that your parents want you to get.  It was a friend, I think.  He convinced me to go to trade school with him.  I was afraid of getting electrocuted.  Anything must be better than getting electrocuted, I thought.  Well, before then I had never been covered from head to toe by the contents of a septic tank gone wrong.  But what the hell did I know?  I didn’t know that it would be like working in fast food, except that my clothes didn’t smell like fries at the end of the day.  I didn’t know that women wouldn’t even think about dating me.  As soon as the word plumber crosses my lips, every woman I meet gets a look on their face like they can smell what I had just buried my arm up to my elbow in mere hours before.

My parents never introduced me as their son the plumber, but that never bothered me.  When they stopped inviting me over altogether, though, that did bother me.  My friends from high school and before stopped hanging out with me, including the guy who got me to go to trade school.  I guess no one wants to watch the fight or have a beer with the guy that smells like what they flush away.  But maybe that’s the heart of it.  Maybe people see me as what they flush away, and they try to flush me away, too.

It’s ok, though.  I’ve gotten used to it.  I’ve even come to enjoy my life.  Sure, I spend most of my day wading through other people’s excrement.  I see disgusting things, and I often smell like those things.  But at the end of the day I go home, turn on the TV, and do whatever I feel like doing.  I have no one to impress, no one to disappoint, no one to tell me how to live.  I may live alone, but I live a glamorous life as a plumber, one that many people would envy.

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